Tuesday, 23 June 2009

VOR: The Last In-Port Race

Green Dragon round the mark ahead of Ericsson 4 in the Stockholm In-Port Race. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

by Lucy Harwood

It was a long sail out to the start line for the last In Port race of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09, the seven boat fleet motored out in the early hours to a two mile course approximately 30 miles from Stockholm located in the Swedish archipelago.

The forecast held as the 10 knot easterly allowed racing to start on time at 1300 local time (GMT +2). With Telefonica Blue back in action a good result today would be key in order to stay in any contention for second place overall from Puma. But it was the big cat who took control of race one. Green Dragon headed off alone on the port side for the start of race one, and PUMA are soon to tack across to join them.

The gamble paid off for Ian Walker and his crew as they hit the mid way gate, PUMA also make gains on the chasing pack and take the lead. Green Dragon saw the rewards of the port side hold at the top mark as they cut in front of Ericsson 4 to sneak into fourth. Puma led with the Telefonica twins in hot pursuit. On the downwind run the breeze soon shifted left forcing Green Dragon to tack, PUMA benefitted the most for the shift and held their lead to the bottom mark, with local boys Ericsson 3 in second and then Telefonica Black in third.

Green Dragon in the Stockholm In-Port Race. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

Telefonica Blue who suffered badly after the wind shift on the downwind leg made some impressive gains to pull back fourth position as the fleet once again rounded the top mark. Green Dragon, Ericsson 4 and Delta Lloyd were all chasing behind. With the big chute up it was a race for Ken Read to lose, but he held onto pole to take first on race one, the Nordic crew on Ericsson 3 held off the Spaniards on Telefonica Blue who made a phenomenal comeback to secure third place.

Race two kicked off on time at 1400 local time with the breeze building to 12 – 14 knots, whilst a dense fog started to set in over the course. It was Bouwe Bekking and his men who took charge, they stretched their legs from the start and never let anyone get in the way of full points. Whilst the fleet took the committee boat end of the start line, the Dragon and Ericsson 4 took their own route and headed out at the pin end. PUMA tacked to the right soon after the gun and the fleet was split with PUMA, Telefonica Black, Green Dragon and Ericsson 4 all on starboard, leaving Delta Lloyd to drag race on port.

The fleet remained tight barring Ericsson 3 who had been spat out at the back of the fleet as they approach the mid way gate. At the windward mark, Telefonica Blue accelerated to grab the lead away from PUMA who were pushed to second, Telefonica Black and Green Dragon were left battling it out for third. By the bottom mark, Telefonica Black had slipped inside of PUMA to steal second and potentially vital points from the big cat. Ericsson 4 was fourth from Green Dragon, Delta Lloyd and Ericsson 3. The whole fleet then moved to port tack for the second beat as the wind once again shifted to the left.

Green Dragon in the Stockholm In-Port Race. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

Telefonica Blue led the fleet around the final top mark, their sistership Telefonica Black in second with PUMA still chasing hard in third. Ericsson 4 were soon to round in fourth, followed by Delta Lloyd, Green Dragon, and finally Ericsson 3. Telefonica Blue manage to hold on and sail a perfect race to take first place on race two. With this result and a third on race one they equal Puma on points, but as they have the highest score on the last race they take full points for the day. The Spanish team has closed the gap to 6.5 points behind PUMA on the overall leaderboard, with one more leg of the race still to come and a maximum of 8 points to play for.

“It was a great day's racing, and great way to round off the In Port racing for the race. The spectator fleet was huge, as far as the eye could see. Full credit to Telefonica Blue, they have had a hard week for both the shore and sailing team, so this is a great result for them today, I am sure they would have liked PUMA to be further down the field but a good result none the less. We sailed well today and it was some close racing, but we suffered on some of the wind shifts and found ourselves closed out on the other side of the course. It is frustrating but we sailed our best and we are looking forward to the final leg.” said Skipper Ian Walker.

Green Dragon in the Stockholm In-Port Race. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

Race One Stockholm In-Port Race Finish Position
2. Ericsson 3
3. Telefónica Blue
4. Ericsson 4
5. Telefónica Black
6. Green Dragon
7. Delta Lloyd

Race Two Stockholm In-port Race Finish Position
1. Telefónica Blue
2. Telefónica Black
4. Ericsson 4
5. Delta Lloyd
6. Ericsson 3
7. Green Dragon

Stockholm In-Port Race Results (Provisional)
1. Telefónica Blue 4.0 points
2. PUMA 3.5 points
3. Telefónica Black 3.0 points
4. Ericsson 4 2.5 points
5. Ericsson 3 2.0 points
6. Delta Lloyd 1.5 points
7. Green Dragon 1.0 points

Overall Leaderboard
1. Ericsson 4 (Turban Grael/BRA): 110.5 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 98.5 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 92.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 73.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 64.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 50.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 39.5 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

Green Dragon in the Stockholm In-Port Race. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

Green Dragon Crew List Stockholm In Port Race
IAN WALKER (GBR) - Skipper
DAMIAN FOXALL (IRL) - Mainsheet/Strategy
GUO CHUAN (CHN) - Media Crew Member

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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